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Planet X At the UK National Championships

The British Cycle Championships culminated this weekend with the 60th running of the Lincoln Classic. U23, Elite Women and Male cyclists form all over the UK lined up to battle it out for the Road Race title- across the flats and sprinting through the narrow winding streets around Lincoln Castle.

The British Championships have risen and risen in stature over the past few years. As cycling continues to grow in popularity in the UK the status of, and the quality of riding in the national champs has continued to grow. Britain boasts a number of international road and track champions as well as world record holders and most of them have been present around Lincoln several days of closely fought racing.

The racing kicked off earlier in the week with riders competing around Cadwell Park racetrack for the UK TT crown. Alex Dowsett powered his way to victory, with a world-class performance and also equalled Stuart Dangerfield’s record of four British time-trial titles on Thursday at Cadwell Park. Dowsett set a blistering time of 1:00:11 for the 44.8km course that carried him over the open roads of Lincolnshire and the manicured tarmac at Cadwell Park.

"It's lovely to get it back," said Dowsett. "It's really significant being national champion. Now every time I do a time-trial I get to wear this, it stands me out as either the British or Dutch national champion!” he joked. "I couldn't have lost it to a more talented guy last year in Brad but it's nice to have it back."

Earlier on the U23 and Women’s crowns had been decided as both Scott Davies and Hayley Simmonds rode away to emphatic victories. Of course all eyes were looking forward to Sunday’s Road Race titles with U23, Women’s and Men’s crowns once again up for grabs.

With 60 years of history the Lincoln Classic is one of the oldest races on the British calender and a fitting location to hold the National Champs’. Taking place in and around the historic town of Lincoln the race headed out onto the open roads of Lincolnshire before heading back into town to tackle the steep, punchy and punishing cobbled climbs at the foot of Lincoln Castle.

Always keen to have a presence at any cycling event Planet X had booked a display slot right in front of the big screen just off the main drag. What better place could there be to display a top-notch selection of road race bikes and accessories than right next to the finish of the National Cycling Championships? We rolled up just shy of 8am with a couple of vans stuffed with PX RT-90 and Viner Mitus 0.6 bicycles, PX Carbon Vernice cycling shoes and PX Team clothing. Of course there was plenty of cycling caps and other accessories for the keen cyclist to take away with them.

The weather was a mixed blessing during the day; it started off cool and slightly overcast and drizzly, great for unpacking two vans and setting up a dozen top-flight road bikes but not so great for the cyclists. The rain came just in time for the first race and promised to make the cobbled section in the run up to the finish line treacherous for the women who raced before the men. A light breeze and breaking cloud helped to clear things up and cobbles dried up before the women got down to the serious business of racing for the last few laps.

It was a tight race, with few early breakaways and small time gaps that were pulled back by the bunch. Towards the last few laps the bunch fragmented and a select group of riders pulled away from the rest of the field. Double previous winner Lizzie Armitstead soloed to victory up the tough Michaelgate cobbles on the 4th lap putting clear space between her and her rivals. She held this gap all the way to the end we she crossed the line on her own, closely followed by 19 year old Alice Barnes and Laura Trott in 2nd and 3rd place respectively. The victory was particularly sweet for Armitstead having been brought down in a spectacular crash just over the finish line in a race just the previous week.

When quizzed about her victory Armitstead said: "It means I get to be proud of being British in all the races that I do. It means a lot - it means new kit for a start! I go to the Giro on Friday so it will be a quick turnaround for them. It was a difficult race. The longer the race went on the better I started to feel.”

Fireworks were expected for the Elite Men’s race with former National and World Road Race Champ Mark Cavendish lined up against current UK Champion Peter Kennaugh. Despite being an individual event rather than a team event it was obvious that the strength in depth of multiple Team Sky riders was going to be an impediment to Cav’s desires to secure his second UK Road Race crown. Team Sky riders Kennaugh and  Stannard split from the bunch, using the increasing crosswinds to their advantage to create a gap that they looked like they might hold al the way to the line.

Cavendish obviously had other plans and dragged his way back to the lead pair over the course of a lap and a half, towing Luke Rowe of Team Sky back along with him. To the casual observer it might have looked very much like the Team Sky riders were working for each other, trying to stretch out Cav to take the sprint out of his legs for the final climb and secure the winner’s crown for one of their own. As it transpired that’s exactly what they did With Kennaugh riding away from Cav on the final climb to take his second UK Road Race Championship victory, being the first man to do it back-to-back since Roger Hammond pulled off the same feat in 2003/04.

In the U23 field that raced alongside the Elite men Owain Doull finished 7th in the men’s race making him the first U23 across the line and the new U23 champion. Team Zapi’s Pro Cycling had a few of their U23 riders in the field but it wasn’t to be their day though Scott Auld was seen mixing it up with the big names early on.

The 40,000+ cycling fans who turned up to watch the event were treated to a top class spectacle with world class riders in all groups giving their all to claim the right to wear the colours of the National Champion on their jersey for the next 12 months.

Though there was no silverware brought back home by Planet X sponsored riders this weekend we’d faired slightly better on the continent with Team Idea 2010 rider Francesco Reda coming 2nd in the Italian Men’s Road Race champs, bringing his Viner Mitus 0.6 over the line just 13 seconds behind Vincenzo Nibali to take home second place ahead of some seriously stiff competition. Everyone at Planet X is delighted with Francesco’s result and wishes Team IDEA the best of the rest of the 2015 season.

Now let’s get on with the serious business of preparing for next weekend’s Tour de France opener…

29 June 2015

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